Remembering Billy Graham

          Reverend Dr. Billy Graham November 7 1918 - February 21, 2018

         Reverend Dr. Billy Graham November 7 1918 - February 21, 2018

This past week Rev. Dr. Billy Graham died at the age of 99. This Southern Baptist minister was born November 7th, 1918 and died on February 21st, 2018, in his home in Montreat, North Carolina. Billy Graham was a dynamic prophetic preacher who drew millions of people around the world into many well-orchestrated crusades. In 1944 Graham began his radio ministry and invited George Beverly Shea to join him. He began in 1947 as the first full time employee of Youth for Christ, and in 1949 set up tents in the heart of Los Angeles where he invited people to hear the gospel every night for three weeks. The crusade went for eight weeks and gained huge media attention across the United States of America. Churches, communities and cities in many states and countries around the world invited him to proclaim the gospel in their region. I can remember sitting beside mom and dad and watching some of his massive crusades on television. In 1987 I was still courting my wife Sue, who lived in Denver Colorado at the time. She was able to get some tickets and invited me to attend one of his ten-day crusades in Mile High Stadium. I can remember sitting in the upper bleachers, blessed to hear the preaching of the word with so many tens of thousands of people listening to the gospel being proclaimed. At the end of his message Billy Graham gave an invitation for anyone who wanted to come to the Lord for the first time or repent and come back to the Lord. That’s when the music kicked in and George Beverly Shea began singing “Just as I am, without one plea.” First a few, then dozens, then hundreds of people began streaming to the front of the podium. I found myself weeping, moved at the outpouring of God’s grace. Things have changed and we have not seen many crusades like the ones Billy Graham used to conduct. The United States now has 301 churches with a weekly attendance of 3000 to 10,000 people a week. They have 70 churches with a weekly attendance of 10,000 to 20000 people, and 23 churches that have a weekly attendance over 20,000 people. Yet, these mega-churches combined make up less then 1% of the American worshiping community. 59% of Christians belong to churches with 7 to 99 people, and 35% of the worshiping public belong to churches 100 – 500 people strong. Billy Graham was an incredibly gifted preacher and prophet who was able to bring unchurched and churched people to repentance, working together and behaving like one holy catholic church. His funeral is scheduled for 12:00 noon on March 2nd, with 2,300 guests in attendance. The words of comfort he gave to many who loved him said “Don’t mourn my passing, I’m just changing my address.” The man was an inspiration to presidents and prisoners who would, in turn, say “Well done, good and faithful servant, well done.”  

Karin Terpstra